White House won't say if Trump condemns suspect in Kenosha double shooting

President 'not weighing in' on killing of anti-racist protesters after hailing supporters who attacked demonstrators in Portland as 'great patriots'

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 31 August 2020 22:18
Trump dodges question about Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse
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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Donald Trump will not comment on Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Trump supporter from Illinois charged with killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin during demonstrations against the police killing of Jacob Blake.

"The president is not going to again weigh in on that," she said on Monday. "You can ask him this evening. He may weigh in further, but at the moment he's not weighing in to that."

Mr Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, all with a deadly weapon after allegedly firing a long gun at three protesters, killing two and injuring another.

The president told reporters on Sunday that he would comment on the case "over the next 24, 48 hours."

He is scheduled to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday following nightly demonstrations against police violence after a police officer shot seven rounds into the back of Mr Blake, a black man who has been left paralysed by the shooting.

But the president raged on Twitter against Democrats and promoted right-wing conspiracies after a man linked to a far-right group that has encouraged violence at protests was shot and killed in Portland on Sunday.

His son Donald Trump Jr also shared a Twitter post that said "Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump." The president "liked" the post.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian have urged the president not to visit the state.

Governor Evers said said the president's visit would only "hinder our healing" as the family of Mr Blake has

"The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the president's visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalised," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "President Trump looks forward to visiting on Tuesday and helping this great city heal and rebuild."

Mr Trump praised a caravan of his supporters arriving in Portland – filmed blasting demonstrators with pepper spray and paintballs – as "great patriots" and attacked mayor Ted Wheeler in threats to deploy the National Guard against Americans.

"The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing," he said on Twitter. "The people of Portland won't put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!"

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